Buzzer Beaters in Board Games
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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"In basketball, a buzzer beater is a shot taken just before the game clock of a period expires, when the buzzer sounds. The term is normally reserved for baskets that win or tie the game..."

So, has this ever happened to you when playing a board game? Have you spent an entire game battling back and forth, and at the final moments of the game some random element happens to tip the scales and cause you to win/lose unexpectedly? Then tell us the story on this geeklist.

I should point out that I do not think this is a sign of a bad game. Some people might be annoyed to play a game for 45 minutes or more and have the result come down to a single lucky roll of a die, or flip of a tile. However, I look at it like most basketball coaches do in post-game press conferences, you could track the win/loss back to a hundred other moments in the game. Despite the fact that one final moment "decided" the game I wouldn't have even been in that situation if I had played better/worse during the course of the game.
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1. Board Game: Lord of the Rings [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:705]
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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The idea for this list has been floating around in my mind for quite awhile. In fact it goes all the way back to September when my brother Jason was in town for a visit and we played Lord of the Rings. In that game we had toiled through 3 of the 4 boards and it appeared that victory might be possible. Unfortunately, on the Mordor board we started flipping one event after another and it seemed that doom was imminent.

Somehow Sam and Merry managed to make it to Mount Doom (after Frodo and Pippin were forced to sacrifice themselves.) Unfortunately, both Sam and Merry were 1 space away from Sauron on the corruption line. Sam took the first shot at destroying the ring and failed. So it was all left to Merry (played by my wife Rikki.) It should also be of note that Rikki had no cards in her hand, so 5 out of 6 faces on the die would spell doom for the fellowship...

AND SHE ROLLED A BLANK! We were victorious by the lucky 1-in-6 roll of a die. Jason even commented later, here on BGG, that it may seem crazy to have an epic game like this come down to 1 die roll, but it didn't make that victory any less sweet.
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2. Board Game: Vegas Showdown [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:415]
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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This actually just happened to me last weekend. We were playing this game and I was racking up lots of points during the game. I thought for sure victory was going to be a cakewalk because, even with all the end-game bonuses, I felt I had a comfortable lead. Then suddenly my Mom started to creep up closer and closer to my score. but I thought I might still have a chance to stay ahead of her. Then on the next to last round I saw my opportunity. I bought a Space-Age Sports Book (which she didn't have room for anymore.) This boosted me back up so I felt more confident.

We only had 1 premiere tile to replace (the Space-Age Sports Book) and we had 1 tile left of all 3 sizes so I knew we had at least 1 more turn. And that's when I figured out the coup de grâce. I could guarantee a win, despite any end-game scoring if I simply bought a Slots and used it to fill in the last hole in my Casino section.

Chuckling internally with my brilliant plan to bid the maximum on the slot and keep anyone from stopping my road to victory, I dropped prices on the 3 premiere tiles, and then flipped a card which said "No one can bid on Slots or Fancy Slots this turn." In my mind I just shouted "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!" Sure enough I was forced to buy nothing (I didn't have enough cash to bid on anything else,) and I lost in the end game scoring by a single point.
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3. Board Game: 6 nimmt! [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:576]
SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
England
York
North Yorkshire
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Yesterday, I played 6 Nimmt with Mike and Richard, old friends and skilled players. We'd been through the deck once, shuffled and started the next round. One row had 3 cards, the last being 101. I had 104 and figured I was safe playing it.

They played the 102 and the 103.

Un-believable. That one player had one was 104-1, but that both had them was 10712-1 (roughly). But that they'd both PLAY THEM...!
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4. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:62]
Blue (They/She)
Canada
Guelph
Ontario
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I've had more than a few games of BSG, most notably this PBF game here on BGG come down to a single, desperate FTL activation by the Humans. If they failed the die roll, they'd lose the last of their population and lose, but if they made it, then they'd win. Often, this comes with a play of Strategic Planning, making the die roll a perfect 50/50 chance. (My last in person game, it was actually with a Strategic Planning AND on Helo's turn, making it a 75% chance of Human victory, and it STILL failed!)
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5. Board Game: Scrabble [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:1524]
Rob
United States
30° 12′ 38″ N, 95° 45′ 2″ W
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I've never beaten my wife at Scrabble. Ever. So we're playing, along with our son, to 150 points. My final play puts me at 151. I'm feeling pretty good, since my wife needs 27 points to win, and the board is getting crowded.... Suddenly, she finds a way to play a small 9 point word - that also takes in the triple-word square in the corner.

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
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6. Board Game: Forbidden Island [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:588]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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I'm surprised I didn't think of this one right away, because it just happened last night. We were playing this game for the first time with my in-laws. As the island slowly dissolved we were grasping at straws trying to keep ourselves alive long enough to discover the earth and water treasures. Through the use of some great teamwork we had 3 of the 4 cards necessary in Rikki's hands to recover the water, and I had all the cards needed for the earth.

Unfortunately, an entire round went by and no one got another water card, so Rikki had to simply use up her turn shoring up tiles. Meanwhile the water level was creeping higher and higher. I got to the temple and recovered the earth artifact and started to aide in the shoring up of tiles. Through some valiant work from my in-laws (and clever use of sandbags) we were able to hold a few tiles of the island afloat through the next 2 turns. Meanwhile, the water level hit the brink of destruction.

Then it was Rikki's turn again, and she noticed that her Mom had drawn a water card. In one final act of heroics she passed all 3 of her water cards to her Mom. To finish her turn she drew 2 cards and managed to avoid another Water's Rise card. I then used my turn to shore up the vital tiles and move Mom onto the proper spot to recover the water artifact.

We had the sandbags necessary to save the 2 most important tiles, and enough helicopters to get Mom back to Fool's Landing and get us off the island before it disappeared. All I had to do was draw 2 cards without getting a Water's Rise card (and there was at least 12 cards in the pile so this was very possible.) Sadly, our mission was doomed on my second card draw.
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7. Board Game: Dice Town [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:719]
Hammock Backpacker
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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My wife and I have played before but I got a chance to pull off the shrink on my own copy this weekend to play with the whole family. About midgame I was in a heap of hurt. My wife and daughter were brimming with property cards (lots of aces on those best poker hands) and my son couldn't keep his poker face straight so I knew he had some good General Store cards. I went into full out queen mode and started stealing me way to victory.

I once even out queen'd my daughter's 5 queens with a set of 5 myself and I was sheriff!

On the last turn, I was gunning to be sheriff for those extra 5 points to take it from my son but my daughter and I tied for kings. My son, the current sheriff wanted to give it to me for some strange reason and I said, "Well, I've been stealing my way through this whole game. If it were me, I'd give it to your sister for those two nuggets she's offering you." I thought I had it in the bag!

Well, as luck would have it, my daughter won by 3 points. Three lousy points! Now my daughter normally runs for the hills when we get out a game but you, know, she asked to play again later that night. Now that's good stuff.

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8. Board Game: Up Front [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:379]
Richard Irving
United States
Salinas
California
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In Up Front, you play a number of times through the deck. If the final deck is exhausted while resolving an action (like a fire attack), you shuffle one final time to complete the resolution.

I have at least two "buzzer beater" games, after the final deck ran out.
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9. Board Game: The Lost Cause [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:4614]
David Heldt
United States
Harper Woods
Michigan
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Two panzer jocks in the South Seas hoping that soon they'll get lei'd--
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Think a buzzer beater can't happen in a solitare game? This just happened last night:

Confederate morale was down to three, but there were only two cards left in the deck and the map situation was such that only the fall of Richmond could cost me the game. The Richmond fort marker was destroyed but the Army of the Potomac was two spaces away at Wilderness and Lee was commanding the Confederate East, so I thought:

>Potomac would need at least three activations in two cards to take Richmond,

>My best general would have a chance to counter any move by Potomac.

Then I turned over the cards:

Friction Of War,

Grant Steals A Flank March.


Not only did the second card have three Potomac activations (two automatic) on it, but thanks to Friction there was nothing I could do as Potomac marched to Hanover, then Richmond, then made its final initiative roll to establish the Richmond base, giving the necessary three morale hits to make me lose--

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10. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Jimmy Schaffer
United States
Unspecified
Kansas
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Last weekend we were playing and we were within one turn of curing all 4 diseases as well as the purple mutant. My brother had 5 blue cards required to cure and was within 3 spaces of a research center. The problem is that we only had 4 card remaining in the deck and he was 2 players away so that when his turn came up there were no cards remaining. The rules state that you lose if there are no cards in the deck when you need to draw, since that was at the end of the turn he moved to the research center cashed in the cards and we won. May not be a competitive game in the sense of the geeklist but I think the 12th hr save that allowed us to win fits in the list.
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11. Board Game: Red Barricades: ASL Historical Module 1 [Average Rating:8.68 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.68 Unranked]
J.L. Robert
United States
Sherman Oaks
California
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Several years ago, a friend and I were playing one of the scenarios in this set. I forget the name of it, but it involved trying to get German units off the map as the Soviets were encircling the Barrikady.

It was the last turn, and I, as the German player, was down to my final 2 squads and 1 leader. All I had to do was get across one last street, and the rest of the way was full of buildings which would conceal my escape. Problem was my opponent had set up his one heavy machine gun to cover that very road. Being the last turn, I couldn't Dash across the road, as I then wouldn't be able to exit the map. So, I was forced to move normally--in the open--across the open road.

I chose to move my troops one counter at a time to reduce my potential losses to a single hot dice roll. But that would expose all of them to some fire as the subsequent units would face Residual Fire from the MG.

My first squad stepped into the road. My friend declared Defensive Fire, establishing a Fire Lane. Re rolled...

A 12! His machine gun jammed, negating his Fire Lane.

Being 9 hexes away from his fire base (1 hex beyond the Extended Fire range of his rifle squads), my Germans waved at the frustrated Soviets as they crossed the street to safety.
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12. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:62]
J.L. Robert
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Sherman Oaks
California
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More recently, I was in a 3-player game of BSG, and it had been a tough slog all the way. My human partner and I were on the verge of victory. We were one space on the Jump Track from our jump to Kobol, no Cylons on the board, and drawing the Crisis card.

I forget the exact card name, but it was that annoying one where the choice is to either reduce Fuel and Population by 1, or reduce Food and Morale by 1. And there was a Jump Track advance symbol on the card.

Problem was Morale and Population were BOTH at 1...

cry
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13. Board Game: BASKETmind [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Miguel (working on TENNISmind...)
France
Caen
(from Valencia, Spain)
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"In basketball, a buzzer beater is..." Well, this game has them literally!

It happened to me a lot of times when the game lasted 4 quarters, that leveled matches were decided in the last possession, in which the team 1 or 2 points below chose to shoot on the last turn... What an angst while waiting for the die to stop rolling!

It can still happen in the published format, though for a quicker game I suggest to play only one quarter and there is less time for tension to accumulate. However, I have proposed what I call the Endgame Challenge, that encourages you in only 10 turns to try a buzzer beater!
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14. Board Game: Solo Baloncesto [Average Rating:7.79 Unranked]
Eduardo Crespo
Spain
Madrid
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SOLO BALONCESTO is a basket boardgame where players are activated alternating one attacker- one defender, so no wasting time is possible.
You play 4 quarters in real time where clock only stops if there is a time out or the ball goes out of the court .

If buzzer sounds, attacking player with the ball can perform his last action and will be considered done on the buzzer sound.

A great buzzer beater...!
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15. Board Game: Basketball Age [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:6103]
Eduardo Crespo
Spain
Madrid
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BASKETBALL age is a basketball simulator for 2 persons that recreates an exciting basketball match.

Each player has his own skills (play skill, movement points, passing, scoring % and height). Players skills are different according to their position.

Court players are activated and perform their actions one by one and in alternating way (attacker-defender and so on) until the end of possession or turn over. Attacking team has a turn to score. It consists of 10 attacking player´s activation, or the buzzer will sound.
 
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